‘Why won’t you ask us?’: This achingly powerful song is a lament for Kashmir under siege
Opinion

‘Why won’t you ask us?’: This achingly powerful song is a lament for Kashmir under siege

'Hum Se Bhi Toh Poocho' is a collaborative effort by seven artistes from across India who provided it exclusively to Newslaundry to release.

By Mehraj D Lone

Published on :

The political rhetoric and nationalist fervour around the Indian government’s lockdown of Kashmir, now in its third month, fogs a fundamental truth: that being Kashmiri today is an unfolding human tragedy.

For illustration, consider this: seven million people were virtually incarcerated in an open-air prison overnight as the constitutional guarantees given to them (what was left of them, anyway) were stripped away. They were not deemed worthy of even being informed of their impending fate, let alone consulted. The parliamentarians who jubilantly cut off an entire people from the rest of the world did not so much as bother asking why even the most prominent token representative of that people wasn’t present in the hallowed House.

This invisibilisation of the people – of their rights and regrets, their dignities and dreams – goes to the heart of the tragedy that is Kashmir, as a new song lays achingly bare.

The song, titled Hum Se Bhi Toh Poocho, is a collaborative effort by seven artistes and filmmakers from across India who provided it exclusively to Newslaundry to release. They asked to remain anonymous, lest their personality and celebrity status detract from the message.

Hum Se Bhi Toh Poocho is a lament for, and by, the people of Kashmir. And it’s a cry for help.

O flowers, where are you? Autumn’s here;
Like fire, leaves have turned golden here.

Why won’t you ask us,
O, why won’t you ask:
Where are the butterflies?
Where are the flowers?

Where bloodied golden leaves lie.

The song plays to clips of young children staring straight into the camera; it’s as if their sad, luminous eyes are giving voice to the resolve of their people to never give up, to carry on in the face of untold repression. The innocent eyes, then, sing of hope.

Fear in their heart is the strength of the helpless,
It’s your struggle, you are your own guiding light.

Why won’t you ask us:
Where are all the colours?

Where bloodied golden leaves lie.

Why won’t you ask us,
Oh, why won’t you ask?

Fragrance of every garden is your blood,
There’s a storm everywhere, you’re peace.
Pray for your pain,
It’s your healer.
Stand up for the weak,
You’re the great human.

Why won’t you ask us:
Where are the flowers?

Where bloodied golden leaves lie.

Truth marches with your every step, believe!
You’re your own pole star, your own trustee.

Now we have spoken, why the questions?
Answer us then: where are the flowers?

In there’s also an appeal to the conscience of the Indian public: won’t you stand up?

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